Dining Reviews

Exploring the Mountainous Burger at West End Tap and Kitchen

Plus, more Santa Cruz restaurants add outdoor dining

Patrons enjoy the outside air while dining at West End Tap and Kitchen. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

When the world turns, savvy dining rooms know how to pivot. 

Over at West End Tap and Kitchen—nestled between a lineup of Surf City Vintners and the mighty Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing—the pub’s always popular outdoor patio now has a sibling. When I went to pick up our burgers last week, I enjoyed the sight of appropriately distanced tables set out on the new roped-off parking area just by the main doorway. Patrons were clearly enjoying the warm evening air as they dined. 

But we were dining at home that night. Our burgers, easily unpacked onto our own plates, were done to a perfect medium-rare. Featuring very large patties and buns, the burgers came with an Everest of thin-cut fries, lettuce, tomatoes, and bright pink pickled onions. These are major dinner burgers, and a deal for $15 each (including fries). I also loved the house pickled carrots ($8), which are as spicy as they are bright orange. Nice scene; and a very smooth curbside pickup. 

West End Tap and Kitchen, 334-D Ingalls St., Santa Cruz. Monday-Thursday, 4-9pm; Friday-Sunday, 12-9pm. 831-471-8115, westendtap.com

11th Hour Coffee at Kelly’s

If you’ve been wondering what would become of that spacious and popular dining patio outside Kelly’s French Bakery, wonder no more. That choice location is softly reawakening thanks to the entrepreneurs of 11th Hour Coffee, who launched last week with a courtyard coffee cart.

“When we decided not to reopen and were considering possible operators, we reached out to 11th Hour Coffee, which we served in our cafe,” Kelly Sanchez told me last week. “We wanted to have operators that we like, and we get along well with Joel and Brayden Estby.”

Sanchez went on to reveal more of the upcoming developments at the influential corner of Swift and Ingalls: “We are sharing some space until all the remodeling is done. Joel and Brayden are young, smart, enthusiastic, and full of the energy needed to launch the new era of the Westside.” 

But there were even more revelations. “Kelly’s will still be supplying the most popular pastries and macarons at 11th Hour Coffee,” said the bakers, “so the Kelly’s regulars can come on by for those old favorites.” Great news!  

I’ll still be able to pick up a croissant and coffee and sit out under those vermillion umbrellas after a walk along West Cliff Drive. Also in the works is space sharing at the Kelly’s site with the flavor-intensive Argentine foods from Colectivo Felix. First up will be empanadas and other specialties at a pickup window, with a full restaurant in the Kelly’s building to follow.

La Posta and Soif Al Fresco

From restaurateur Patrice Boyle comes good news: They are planning to open for outside dining at both Soif and La Posta starting Thursday, Aug. 20. Check soifwine.com and lapostarestaurant.com for details.

Alfaro Tasting Weekends

Saturday and Sunday, Aug 15-16, noon to 5pm, enjoy the spectacular view of the vineyards while sipping the flavors harvested from the same vines. Naturally there’s some alchemy in transforming mere grapes into wines with style and character. That’s where “he who never sleeps,” winemaker Richard Alfaro, comes in. Alfaro Family Vineyards boasts a terrific site on a hillside in Corralitos. Call 831-728-5172 to reserve your table.

Davenport Roadhouse 

Going all out with its outdoor dining arena, the Davenport Roadhouse has roped off its parking lot, added heaters and fire pits, and even set out some large Japanese maple trees to create a shaded spot for dining in the fresh air. Learn more at davenportroadhouse.com.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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